Congolese general and former presidential candidate Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko, 71, was sentenced on Friday to 20 years for “undermining internal state security” after authorities accused him of trying to stage a coup. “The criminal court declares Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko guilty of the facts charged to him,” criminal court president Christian Oba said.

 

Seven co-defendants six French and a Congolese were sentenced in absentia to the same prison term. Mokoko, 71 and a former chief of staff of the Republic of Congo’s army, has three days to appeal his conviction for undermining state security following the 2016 election in which he placed third.

Defence For Him

The defence counsel for the general, who was once an advisor of long-serving President Denis Sassou Nguesso, had said the trial was “simply a settling of political scores.” In March 2016, Mokoko won less than a 14% vote share as Sassou Nguesso was controversially declared a first-round winner.

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